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Thursday, September 3, 2020

LYNWOOD—Lynwood Unified School District is leaning into a new year of distance learning with increased technology, a robust selection of virtual arts programs, and new equity curriculum that focuses on diversity and inclusion.

When the school year launched on Aug. 24, students and teachers gathered in virtual classrooms and began an academic journey that will see programs reimagined. The District has expanded its arts programs and students will now receive video lessons throughout the week from The Music Center, P.S. Arts, and Conga Kids.

“Providing our students with instruction that allows them to explore their creativity is especially important during distance learning and will keep them from becoming stagnant,” Dr. Mariana Astorga-Almanza, LUSD Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator, said. “For the time being, we may not be able to change the physical environment for our students, but we can certainly stimulate their imagination.”

Lynwood Unified has also implemented new culturally relevant instruction that will give young learners diverse perspectives. The instruction was initiated by the District’s Equity, Access, and Instructional Department, but is also a response to the nation’s racial unrest. LUSD held a student virtual forum in June that allowed them to express feelings on racial injustice and a desire for more education that reflects their own history and path.

Teachers across the District will engage students with a seven-part culture series in addition to the ethnic studies courses offered at high schools.

“We want our curriculum to reflect the rich culture and heritage of our students,” Equity Department Director Patricia Brent-Sanco said. “Our students deserve to be emboldened and strengthened by the triumphs, and even struggles, of their history.”

A special Equity Task Force consisting of students, alumni, and staff, has been formed to evaluate overall instruction and ensure the District is reaching its goals of success for underserved groups.

Prior to the start of the school year, District leaders spent several months developing a learning plan to educate students in a virtual learning environment, providing teachers, staff, parents, and students with the training, tools, and resources to ensure a successful start to the school year.

Schools hosted virtual orientations to welcome back families and familiarize them with online programs utilized throughout the year. The District also hosted a live Q&A that was aired on Instagram and Facebook and gave the public a chance to ask questions and engage about their needs.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical that we stay connected to the community and attune to its needs,” LUSD Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “We will continue to host virtual events that encourage conversation and help us to better support families.”

A laptop is available for each LUSD student to attend virtual classes where they will get assignments and instruction through Google classroom. The District, along with the City of Lynwood, is working to provide hotspots for internet access to all families who need them.

Lynwood Unified is providing a minimum of 600 hours per week of instruction through its distance learning plan.

“We are fully committed to giving students and families the best of what we have to offer,” LUSD Board President Gary Hardie Jr. said. “These past months have challenged us to innovate as educators and meet this unprecedented moment with new and unique instruction.”